A lot has been said lately about Facebook and how its stock has been a real dog. Perhaps that’s only fitting, given that Facebook has seemingly gone to the dogs because there are lots of pooches with pages. Facebook founder mark Zuckerberg’s dog has his own page, and a Pomeranian named Boo has 1.3 million followers. I am not one of them. however, through a friend of the family, I did become a Facebook follower of a dog.
Late in 2010, Jennifer began sharing the story of a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. during his deployment, the Army sergeant was befriended by a mangy but always friendly dog. the pup looked to be severely malnourished and sadly was missing most of his nose, apparently from abuse or as a product of the ongoing conflict.
The sergeant would hear the dog sneezing despite the absence of a nose. the soldier and the dog became quick friends, and the sergeant searched and hoped for a way to send the dog to the states for needed medical treatment and a life of love.
Jennifer took on Sgt. Sneezy — as he became known — as a personal mission and began telling his story through a Facebook page. stories of Sneezy’s plight spread, and donations began pouring into Puppy Rescue Mission, an organization that assists animal refugees of war.
Thanks to those donations, Sneezy received veterinary care in Kabul, gaining enough strength to travel to America. Jennifer agreed to care for Sneezy until the soldier’s deployment was over and arranged for the intense care he would need once in the states. Within months, the necessary money was donated; Sneezy arrived in Maine and began weeks of further medical procedures — including a sort of plastic surgery to rebuild his nose.
Sneezy became Americanized. he developed a taste for hot dogs and French fries and his own personality showed, especially on Facebook. he claimed he posted updates from his Barkberry phone, although I have a hunch Jennifer was behind it all. Sneezy would tell funny stories and comment (in true social media form) with LMTO (for laughing my tail off) and BOL (bark out loud, the canine equivalent of LOL).
He shared adventures, exploits and encounters, always bringing a laugh, a smile and making new friends. Isn’t that what dogs are supposed to do?
Recently, however, Jennifer, the sergeant and Sneezy reported that treatments to battle a persistent infection in Sneezy’s nose had taken their toll. Comparing the medicine’s strength to that of chemotherapy, they shared that the treatments were doing more harm than good, and Sgt. Sneezy was, in a word, suffering. he was put to sleep just a couple of weeks ago. the news brought a flood of comments and condolences from across the country. many followers, including this one, shed a tear or two.
Yet, his impact continues. his Facebook page still attracts visitors and a new page, “Sneezy’s Angels,” was established by a group of fans to assist other animals in need. he posthumously has been nominated for an American Kennel honor for life-changing dogs.
I know that some will say raising money to bring a dog “home” from Afghanistan, fixing his nose and putting him on Facebook was a waste of time and money. Yet I would point to the 4,300 people who were his Facebook friends and who were touched by his story as well as the attention he brought to animal cruelty prevention efforts and to all of us who learned from Sneezy that it is OK to look different and be different than those around us.
Sgt. Sneezy, I salute you.